Dennis Allen, C.J. Stroud lead NFL Week 18 quotes

ByESPN staff ESPN logo
Monday, January 8, 2024

Playoff implications and division games meant strong words in the final week of the 2023 NFL regular season.

TheNew Orleans Saints dominated the Atlanta Falcons48-17in a contest that included a heated coaches meeting after the game.TheHouston Texans went from a three-win 2022 to a playoff berth in the 2023 season. It went from bad to worse for the Philadelphia Eagles, who suffered their fifth loss in the last six games.

Nick Sirianni's straightforward comment leads Week 18's top quotes from around the NFL.

Philadelphia Eagles coach Nick Sirianni

Heading into Sunday, the Eagles still had a shot at winning the NFC East. However, they fell behind 24-0 at the end of the first half, lost A.J. Brown to injury and pulled most of their starters as the game neared its end.

A year after making the Super Bowl, Philadelphia enters the playoffs with limited momentum. Nick Sirianni expressed confidence that the Eagles can turn it around and win next week.

"When you get hit in football, you got two options: You can stay down or you can get the F up. I know this group as fighters. I know this group will get up."

New Orleans Saints coach Dennis Allen

Up 41-17 with just over a minute remaining in the game, the Saints faked a kneel-down and handed it off to Jamaal Williams for a 1-yard touchdown. Falcons head coach Arthur Smith let Dennis Allen hear it after the game, refusing to shake hands.

Allen apologized for the late touchdown and said he called for a kneel-down, but the players decided to run it in for a touchdown.

"That's not who we are, that's not how we operate. We should've taken a knee."

Minnesota Vikings WR Justin Jefferson

A frustrating Vikings season came to an end with their 10th loss of the season. But Justin Jefferson still managed to have a 1,000-yard receiving season, despite missing seven games. He finished with 1,074 receiving yards, the most by any player in a season where they played 10 games or less, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Jefferson, though, wasn't too interested in talking about individual achievements after Minnesota didn't make the playoffs.

"What does it matter if I'm getting my individual stats if we're not winning? It's tough, but it is what it is."

New England Patriots RB Ezekiel Elliott

The Patriots faced off against the New York Jets in a snowy Foxborough. It marked the first time in Elliott's eight-season NFL career that he appeared in a snow game. He ran for 54 yards and had five catches for 27 yards, but his feelings changed.

"When I was younger, I always wanted to play a game in the snow. Then I play a game in the snow and was like, that kind of sucked."

Houston Texans QB C.J. Stroud

After defeating the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday, the Texans clinched a playoff berth in DeMeco Ryans' first season as head coach.

C.J. Stroud had a key role in the seven-win difference from the 2022 season. He threw for 4,108 yards and 23 touchdowns in his rookie season. Teammates credited him for Houston's return to the postseason, but Stroud credited Ryans for his impact.

"DeMeco is the perfect guy for the job. He brings something out of his players, and it's indescribable."

Green Bay Packers RB Aaron Jones

Green Bay had a simple path to the playoffs ahead of Sunday: Win and you're in. The Packers took care of business against the Chicago Bears and became the fourth-youngest team to clinch a playoff berth since the 1970 merger.

Jordan Love played a huge part in Green Bay's playoff berth, throwing for 4,159 yards and 32 touchdowns (second-most in the NFL). Love heard his fair share of criticism throughout the season, but Aaron Jones made sure to send a message to those critics.

"I keep receipts. I hope he does, too."